The Old Queens Head – Sheffield, England - Gastro Obscura

The Old Queens Head

Amidst towering office buildings, a local pub lives inside Sheffield’s oldest surviving domestic building. 


Despite the looming shadow of the modern office building behind it, the Old Queens Head in Sheffield, England, stands majestically as the oldest domestic building in the city. Its distinctive timber-framed Tudor architecture was refurbished in 1993, and presently houses a popular pub.

The Old Queens Head (sometimes spelled the Old Queen’s Head) was built near a wetland around 1475. Documents suggest it was used in the 16th century by George Talbot, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, who threw banquets for guests who came to hunt wild fowls by the ponds adjoining the Earl’s estate. The name for the building was “the Hawle at the Poandes” (“the Hall at the Ponds”). It was this same Earl who was appointed by Queen Elizabeth I to keep her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, under house arrest in Sheffield from 1570 to 1584. The imprisoned queen’s cost of upkeep was enormous and the Earl bore most of it on his own, with little help from his royal sovereign. (Some say the financial hit affected the Earl’s health and destroyed his marriage.) The pub’s name is likely a reference to Queen Mary, who was later beheaded for plotting to overthrow Elizabeth. 

By the 19th century, the area had become highly industrialized (close by the current pub is the preserved gateway to the 19th-century Ponds Forge foundry), and a pub appeared next door to the building around 1840. This was the original “Old Queens Head.” Later, the pub expanded into the “Hall in the Ponds,” and this is where it stands today, after a refurbishment in 1993. It’s now owned by Thwaites Brewery.

Know Before You Go

The building is right next to Sheffield bus and coach station and fewer than 400 yards from the rail station. A multi-story car park is within 200 yards.

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